I have reached a point in my life where I am experiencing “meeting overload.” I really like the idea of collaborating and I am also committed to accountability. In my blog for women business leaders about making meetings fun and effective, I talk about the various characters around the table. Knowing whom you are dealing with helps frame your approach to the meeting. I always like to have an agenda, a meeting goal, expected outcomes and a system for tracking tasks and themes for the follow up meetings.
In an American Express blog by Barry Moltz, he outlines some great meeting tips gleaned from Al Pittampalli’s new book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting. I think these meeting suggestions should be incorporated into all businesses meeting plans:
1. Meet only to support a decision that has already been made
The successful meeting must have “a bias for action.” According to Pittampalli, a meeting should only focus on two activities: Resolve conflict and to lead coordination of action.
2. Move fast—end on time
Set a time limit for each meeting. Pittampalli reminds us that “Every meeting costs a fortune. Spend it wisely.” Start and end on time by only discussing the relevant issues and actions that need to be taken right now.
3. Limit attendees to the meeting
The more people attending a meeting, the more people that need to agree to take an action. This slows down the meeting process. Pittampalli believes every attendee needs to ask themselves two questions before attending: Do I add critical value sitting in the meeting? Can I give my opinion in advance of the meeting?
4. Reject attendees that are unprepared
Create an agenda and send material in advance for everyone to be prepared. This way, the discussion can begin at the start of the meeting and no one needs to be “brought up to speed.” Pittampalli says that agendas need to state the problem, the alternatives and what decisions will be made at the meeting.
5. Create committed action plans
Pittampalli insists that every meeting should have a plan of action at its conclusion including: What action is being committed to, who is responsible for each action and when will it be completed?
6. Work with brainstorms
Pittampalli has detailed guidelines around how brainstorming exists inside effective meetings. These include only inviting people that are passionate about the idea and who can praise other people’s ideas liberally. Most importantly, use a strong outside facilitator that can lead a timely brainstorming session.
I know it’s a challenging list considering all of the meeting-happy businesses out there, but I never met anyone yet who says honestly that they “love meetings.” I am always thinking of ways to make the meeting process less painful, and I’d welcome your tips in the comments below.